The metabolic pathway known as (bacterio)chlorophyll biosynthesis is initiated by magnesium chelatase (BchI, BchD, BchH). This first step involves insertion of magnesium into protoporphyrin IX (proto), a process requiring ATP hydrolysis. Structural information shows that the BchI and BchD subunits form a double hexameric enzyme complex, whereas BchH binds proto and can be purified as BchH-proto. We utilized the Rhodobacter capsulatus magnesium chelatase subunits using continuous magnesium chelatase assays and treated the BchD subunit as the enzyme with both BchI and BchH-proto as substrates. Michaelis-Menten kinetics was observed with the BchI subunit, whereas the BchH subunit exhibited sigmoidal kinetics (Hill coefficient of 1.85). The BchI·BchD complex had intrinsic ATPase activity, and addition of BchH greatly increased ATPase activity. This was concentration-dependent and gave sigmoidal kinetics, indicating there is more than one binding site for the BchH subunit on the BchI·BchD complex. ATPase activity was ∼40-fold higher than magnesium chelatase activity and continued despite cessation of magnesium chelation, implying one or more secondary roles for ATP hydrolysis and possibly an as yet unknown switch required to terminate ATPase activity. One of the secondary roles for BchH-stimulated ATP hydrolysis by a BchI·BchD complex is priming of BchH to facilitate correct binding of proto to BchH in a form capable of participating in magnesium chelation. This porphyrin binding is the rate-limiting step in catalysis. These data suggest that ATP hydrolysis by the BchI·BchD complex causes a series of conformational changes in BchH to effect substrate binding, magnesium chelation, and product release.